Cunningham Hill Junior School


Name Cunningham Hill Junior School
Website http://www.cunninghamhill-jun.herts.sch.uk/
Ofsted Inspection Rating Outstanding
Inspection Date 08 December 2011
Address Cell Barnes Lane, St Albans, Hertfordshire, AL1 5QJ
Phone Number 01727852911
Type Primary
Age Range 7-11
Religious Character Does not apply
Gender Mixed
Number of Pupils 238 (51% boys 49% girls)
Number of Pupils per Teacher 18.5
Local Authority Hertfordshire
Percentage Free School Meals 12.6%
Percentage English is Not First Language 34.9%
Persisitent Absence 2.5%
Pupils with SEN Support 15.5%
Catchment Area Information Available Yes, our catchment area data is FREE
Last Distance Offered Information Available No

Information about the school

This is an average-sized primary school. The proportion of pupils known to be eligible for free school meals is lower than average but increasing year on year. The proportion of pupils from minority ethnic groups is above average. The percentage who speak English as an additional language is average. The proportion of pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities is below average. The needs of these pupils are mostly related to behaviour and specific learning difficulties. The school has a number of awards, including the Becta ICT Mark, and has achieved national Healthy Schools status.

Main findings

Cunningham Hill Junior provides an outstanding education for its pupils. It is led by an exceptional headteacher who is extremely well supported by two assistant headteachers and a team of very talented and hard-working teachers. They all share a common vision and are passionate about their school. Their excellent teamwork ensures that all pupils are able to maximise their life chances. One of the key features contributing to the success of the school is the high quality of the teaching. Teachers are extremely knowledgeable and enthusiastic about their subjects. They capture pupils’ imaginations and are skilled at transporting them into exciting new worlds. This was exemplified in an art lesson through which excited pupils in Year 6 explored the mind and imagery of Picasso. Pupils show high levels of interest and excitement, are keen to answer questions and share their thinking with each other and their teachers. This is supported extremely well by all teachers, who use their highly effective questioning skills to clarify, challenge and extend pupils’ thinking or further develop their ideas. Pupils say they feel safe. This is because, as one pupil said, ‘there are sensible rules and everyone behaves really well.’ They understand potentially unsafe situations and how to deal with them. For example, they speak confidently about how to keep themselves safe near water, on the roadside and how to deal with interactions on the internet. The care, support and guidance provided by the school are excellent and promote independence and achievement. Pupils are very polite and considerate. They greet visitors with a smile and readily welcome them to their school with pride. Their behaviour is exemplary in and around the school. This makes a strong contribution to the progress pupils make in lessons. Achievement is outstanding. Pupils make outstanding gains in their learning in a very short space of time. Throughout the school progress accelerates and is very impressive; pupils meet and exceed highly challenging targets. The excellent curriculum contributes very well to pupils’ personal development. For example, pupils are encouraged to enter a variety of competitions to enrich their learning such as the National Mathematics Challenge for secondary schools in which they have gained awards at gold, silver and bronze level. The senior leadership team know the school exceedingly well. Self-evaluation is accurate and searching. Procedures are extremely thorough and ensure an unrelenting focus on achievement and a drive for excellence at all levels. Teachers are supported and coached very effectively, and become increasingly confident. Teaching assistants contribute well to classroom practice because they are well directed. Areas for improvement identified at the time of the previous inspection have been successfully tackled. Higher-attaining pupils are challenged to achieve as well as they can in the vast majority of lessons. Links with the neighbouring infant school have strengthened considerably, ensuring that pupils make a smooth transition to the junior school. No learning time is lost. Attendance is high, reflecting how much pupils enjoy coming to school. Much teaching is outstanding but the school is never complacent and focuses attention on improving good teaching and making it even better. Its successes indicate that the school has outstanding capacity for further improvement. The governing body contributes well to the life of the school and holds the school to account for its performance. Its members offer support and challenge to staff. However, they do not always monitor closely enough the impact of the school’s actions to bring about improvement. The school has developed many links with a variety of organisations which benefit pupils’ learning. This ensures they are prepared well for the next stage in their education. Along with their high level of basic skills, pupils are prepared outstandingly well for their future lives.